Improper Police Conduct Around Damascus Gate in Jerusalem
Evidence that has come to our attention through filmed documentation published on social media, indicates that in recent weeks the Israel Police have been making broad indiscriminate use of riot control measures, in response to gatherings of young Palestinians in the area of the Damascus Gate Plaza. Water cannons and skunk water were used extensively and disproportionately, in complete disregard of precautionary regulations and in violation of the guidelines put forth in police protocols. Such conduct raises strong suspicions that their goal entails sweeping deterrence of residents from visiting the area, leading to long-term harm of businesses and buildings, and collective punishment of all the city's Palestinian residents.
Yesterday (October 25, 2021) we addressed the matter before the Minister of Public Security. Attorney Shira Livne, Director of ACRI’s Human Rights in the Occupied Territories Unit, requested that the Minister order:
An investigation into the incidents in which the police made unusual use of riot control measures;
Clarification of the guidelines on the use of various riot control measures, emphasizing the need to avoid harming bystanders and causing damage to businesses and property;
A comprehensive examination of police conduct and policy in East Jerusalem, regarding all the aforementioned, in how it contends with residents’ gatherings and expressions of protest.
The appeal noted that "There is no doubt that since the beginning of October, the police have been contending, once again, with a tense and complex reality in the eastern city." It continued, "This reality includes rallies for protests and riots that are sometimes accompanied by violence and vandalism. However, even these do not justify unrestrained use of force and measures that harm passers-by, commerce in the area, and disrupt the routine way of life in one of the most important areas of the city for Palestinian society. Such use also stands in contrast to police protocols, which dictate decisions on classifying incidents and employing appropriate measures."